Three years ago, our office Pedra Líquida (Liquid Stone) was commissioned to create a new Hotel design concept – Casa do Conto, arts&residence - giving life to a beautiful XIX Century Oporto House, through a chirurgical restoration process. Unfortunately, on March 2009, few days before the hotel opening, the building suffered a terrible fire.
As architects and concept creators we decided that we had to rebuild it, better than before. In fact, recreating its remaining structure was an opportunity to make this new hotel, and the memory of that special house, reborn from the ashes, like the Phoenix.
In this sense, the new project evokes, through an abstract approach, the old house adornment and its wall textures by using traditional surfaces – crossed wood patterns, corrugated steel plates and curved plywood panels – as a “mould” for the new concrete walls: at the central staircase; at the back facade; at the cubic bathrooms inside every suite; at the oval-shaped central skylight, a typical Oporto typology. As a result we get a kind of “fossilized architecture” where those modern “skins” rephrase the pre-existing ones.
All the concrete ceilings are (re)decorated by carved texts, in bass-relief, where you can read different narratives about the concept of "house" and of that house in particular. Created by different authors related to Oporto and its architecture, those six tails were spatially layered by our office, and graphically imagined by R2 Designers.
Casa do Conto embodies a unique story of life, which is, in fact, the history of the city itself. The hotel highlights Oporto’s domestic architecture, solemn and vertical, carved by the scars of a time that mediates its decline and rebirth, the memory of the past and the desire for the future, the granite stone of the old facades and the new concrete of its inner core.